The White House has responded to a 2012 petition which asked the Obama administration to “legally recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.”
The Westboro Baptist Church (WBC), which describes itself as “God fearing,” is notorious for displaying extremist and hateful philosophies through tasteless actions; the group thrives by spreading negativity and hatred by picketing heart-wrenching events such as military funerals. Additionally, they are constantly blaming natural disasters or acts of terror on groups they disagree with, such as the LGBT community.
For their repeated actions and displays of hatred, a petition was made to President Obama asking his administration to officially recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group.
The petition on We the People stated:
“This group has been recognized as a hate group by organizations, such as The Southern Poverty Law Center, and has repeatedly displayed the actions typical of hate groups.
“Their actions have been directed at many groups, including homosexuals, military, Jewish people and even other Christians. They pose a threat to the welfare and treatment of others and will not improve without some form of imposed regulation.”
The petition gained 367,180 signatures; interestingly, the highest percentage of signatures came from Kansas (where WBC’s headquarters is located) and from Connecticut (where the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting took place, and the WBC attempted to picket funerals of the victims), as shown in data provided by the White House.
The Obama administration responded by saying they cannot officially recognize the Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group, most importantly because the White House does not collect any such lists.
“As a matter of practice, the federal government doesn’t maintain a list of hate groups,” said the White House.
Based on the ‘We the People’ guidelines, they are not obliged to comment at all. However, they still chose to.
“That all said, we agree that practices such as protesting at the funerals of men and women who died in service to this country and preventing their families from mourning peacefully are reprehensible—a point that President Obama has made for years. That’s why he signed a law to ensure that protesters keep an appropriate distance at military funerals.”
The Administration continued, “Moreover, one of the remarkable things about this set of petitions is that it shows just how strong the bonds that unite us can be. Together, we’re more resilient than those who would try to drive us apart.”
Considering the high volume of petitions and requests the White House receives on a daily basis, it is impressive that they responded with not only a personal note but also an analysis of data they facilitated based on the petition.
The Obama administration has been very vocal about protecting LGBT rights and sharing their support. President Obama made it known he was thrilled when the US Supreme Court declared DOMA unconstitutional, and was the first sitting president to endorse marriage equality.